The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday on the situation in Ethiopia, a country at war for more than a year, at the request of the European Union, we have learned Monday from the EU mission.
The EU – with the support of more than 50 countries – on Monday submitted a letter to the president of the HRC asking him to organize an extraordinary session on “the grave human rights situation in Ethiopia”, as the Ethiopian government conducts a “counter-offensive” to regain ground from the rebels he is fighting in the north of the country.
“In light of the worsening situation, we believe that the international community has a moral obligation to try to prevent further atrocities and to ensure (…) justice for victims and survivors,” said said EU Ambassador to the UN Lotte Knudsen.
“The Human Rights Council must live up to its responsibilities,” she added in a written statement.
The Council holds three ordinary sessions per year, but if a third of the 47 member states so request, it can decide at any time to hold an extraordinary session.
War in Ethiopia erupted in November 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the army to the northern region of Tigray to remove local authorities from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which challenged his authority and accused him of attacking military bases.
Abiy Ahmed proclaimed victory three weeks later, after the capture of the regional capital Mekele. But in June, the TPLF retook most of Tigray, then advanced into the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara.
On November 25, Abiy Ahmed announced that he would go to the front in person to lead the “counter-offensive”. The government has since announced that it has regained ground.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the conflict in Tigray is marked by “extreme brutality”.
In a joint investigation with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, created by the Ethiopian government, it concluded in early November that possible crimes against humanity were committed by all parties.
The EU mission to the UN said on Monday that “a year after the start of the conflict, reports of serious human rights violations and abuses continue to emerge.”
In accordance with the rules established by the Council, the list of States supporting the holding of extraordinary sessions remains open for signature until the meeting is held.
The Human Rights Council rarely meets in extraordinary sessions, but these usually result in the adoption of a resolution, as it did on 5 November regarding Sudan.